Gardens brimming with birds, butterflies and
other wildlife provide a healthy environment for plants and people. Diversity is
the watchword for wildlife gardening. Plants of different heights, colors,
flower shapes and bloom times provide habitats needed for resting, reproduction, hibernating and
While the plants are an important aspect of a wildlife
garden, there are other ways to make these beautiful creatures part of our
garden. For instance, butterflies tend to like it warm and planting a
diverse habitat will help to give them places to, not only, spend the night
and find moisture, but also to bask in the sun. In Rick Mikula's excellent book
Garden Butterflies of North America, he writes of the need
Butterflies have for soaking up some rays. Since their internal muscles must
warm to 80 degrees for flight, providing light colored basking areas lets
them rev up their engines faster. He suggests a butterfly waterless pond. He
makes his in the shape of a butterfly, but any shape will do. You make an
indentation in the soil, line it with plastic, add a few similar in size
light colored stones or sand and stand back. He adds that if morning dew
collects, the butterflies will find this moisture when they come to bask.
Of course, the sidewalk will work too, but it is not as much fun.
Please don’t spray the
garden with chemical pesticides or use systemics (chemical fertilizers and
pesticides that go from root through stems to leaves). Even natural controls can
harm birds and butterflies. The goal is to create a balance where nature
takes control. Oh, and, watch the Bug Zappers. They kill
night flying moths, but don't do any damage to daytime flies and mosquitoes.
Moths are important nocturnal pollinators.
The following six plants are a start for making your garden,
not only a successful wildlife habitat, but also a successful garden. These
six plant are rated to over winter in
zones 5 through 11.